Brexit trade deal could take 10 years
A post-Brexit trade deal between Britain and the European Union might take 10 years to finalise and could still fail, the United Kingdom's ambassador to the bloc has told Prime Minister Theresa May's government, the BBC reported on Thursday.
According to the BBC, Sir Ivan Rogers warned ministers that the European consensus was that a deal might not be achieved until the early to mid-2020s.
He also cautioned that an agreement could be rejected ultimately by other EU members' national parliaments.
In October, Sir Ivan, who conducted David Cameron's negotiation over the UK's relationship with the EU, advised ministers that the view of the 27 other countries was that a free trade agreement could take as long as a decade.
He said that even once concluded, the deal might not survive the process of ratification, which involves every country having to approve the deal in its own parliament.
It is also understood he suggested that the expectation among European leaders was that a free trade deal, rather than continued membership of the single market, was the likely option for the UK after Brexit.
Sir Ivan's private advice contrasts with ministers publicly insisting a deal can be done in the two years allowed by the triggering of Article 50 - the formal start of the process of leaving the EU.
Downing Street said he was relaying other EU members' views, rather than his own or the British government's.
A spokesman said: "It is wrong to suggest this was advice from our ambassador to the EU. Like all ambassadors, part of his role is to report the views of others."
PM MAY TO BRIEF BRUSSELS
Prime Minister Theresa May will update Britain's partners in Brussels on Thursday on her plans to launch talks by March on quitting the EU, and they will settle their arrangements for the negotiations.
May will join an EU summit starting after 12 p.m. (1100 GMT) to discuss issues from migration to the economy, security and building up defences against Russia as Donald Trump prepares to enter the White House with an agenda many Europeans fear may dilute the historic U.S. military commitment to protect them from Moscow.
Sources: BBC, Reuters